“From what I see”: O’Neil discusses his selection dilemma as he hope to find a suitable replacement for Neto ahead of Visit to Sheffield United…

The Wolves manager has a selection dilemma to contend with, with this squad player in line for a start.

Unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches – including a shock 2-1 win over Manchester City – Wolverhampton Wanderers have surprised even their own fanbase with how well they’re performing in the top-flight so far this season with boss Gary O’Neil receiving plenty of warranted praise for the job he’s currently doing at Molineux.

Tasked with coming into an unsteady environment that saw various first team faces such as Ruben Neves leave in the summer, on top of former manager Julien Lopetegui quitting citing Wolves’ insecure financial situation as the reason for his resignation.

The former AFC Bournemouth boss has guided his new team to 12th in the Premier League standings despite this backdrop with attacker Pedro Neto sticking out as pivotal to how O’Neil has his team playing.

To the dismay of the Wolves fanbase, their Portuguese star looks to be out of contention for a start versus Sheffield United up next after pulling up with an injury versus Newcastle United that resulted in the 23-year-old being substituted off.

Everyone with connections to the West Midlands team will hope that the later confirmed hamstring injury does not sideline Neto for the foreseeable future and that he is back in action soon, as the ex-Braga man is the first name on O’Neil’s team-sheet when at full fitness and for good reason.

Neto’s numbers this season

Leading the assists chart in the Premier League with a staggering seven from ten games played – Kieran Trippier just below Neto with six – it cannot be understated how crucial the forward has been to Wolves’ attacking play this campaign and the goals they have managed to score.

Amassing 75 touches in total against AFC Bournemouth per Sofascore in a recent 2-1 win on the South Coast, Neto was instrumental in beginning passages of attacking play all afternoon and steered his side towards victory subsequently.

Hitting the bar with a solo effort in the first half, his run centrally a matter of minutes into the second 45 minutes helped his team restore parity versus the Cherries – finding Matheus Cunha after bursting through unchallenged on the edge of the area to fiercely strike home for 1-1, the move orchestrated by Wolves’ assist king.

He will be a huge miss for the match against the Blades, with O’Neil scrambling for an adequate replacement within his group.

Pablo Sarabia could well be the answer to Wolves’ Neto woes, despite the 31-year-old not scoring a goal for his employers this season.

Why Sarabria should start against Sheffield United

Scoring his last goal for the Old Gold back in February against Fulham – a staggering 253 days ago – the experienced midfielder still has plenty to offer his team, particularly in the wake of Neto’s injury.

At home versus Blackpool in the EFL Cup, the Spaniard shone throughout with the former Sevilla man assisting three of the five Wolves goals on the night as O’Neil’s men brushed aside their League One opponents with ease in a 5-0 win.

This shows that the Spanish whiz has the potential to offer impressive creativity from a midfield position, which is why he could fill the hole left by Neto, who has seven Premier League assists this term.

Playing centrally in that one, a major asset to Sarabia’s game is his versatility to play as a winger when called upon to do so, O’Neil is surely encouraged by his player’s willingness to fit in where required.

Sarabia’s primary position was actually at right wing when he featured for Paris Saint-Germain over four seasons, scoring 13 of his 22 PSG goals from the channels.

O’Neil might well call upon on his current goal-shy midfielder to plug the gap left behind by the sidelined Neto, hoping that a rare Wolves first-team start reinvigorates Sarabia and sees him out of his shell to star against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United as the creative menace that his showing against Blackpool showed he can be.

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